Lists of Evil Books

20 05 2008

I found a list of Books That Screwed Up The World, by some guy. It is decent, fun to compare with my own. I don’t think the Communist Manifesto by Marx & Engels belongs on the list. I also disagree with The Prince by Machiavelli. Missing from this guy’s list but present on mine are, The Bible – old testament & new -(I know it’s a collection of books), The Qur’an and The Bell Curve by Hernstein & Murray.
The bible has been used as a justification for the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch hunts, slavery, homophobic hatred, etc. The Qu’ran has been used to justify female circumcision, many a fatwa, the 9-11 attacks, suicide bombings, etc. One may make the arguement that these religious texts are responsible for much good as well. It is my contention that there are many books which do the same, with little or no negative influence, Shakespeare, Rousseau, Emerson, Thoreau, Bonhoeffer… Even ‘militant’ books like On War by Clausewitz or Autobiography of X by Malcolm X have not brought about as much harm as they have good. In fact, one may get the same morality lessons from many other sources. Religious texts certainly do not have a monopoly on morality lessons. They do, on the other hand, have a near monopoly on genocidal inspiration.
The Bell Curve uses pseudoscience and weakly supported (read one-sided) analysis to legitimate racial and class disparity. The authors start with the assumption that minorities and the underclass are less intelligent than the majority and the rich. They then set out to back up their assertion. Rather than taking the data and drawing a conclusion, they start with the conclusion and select the data they use. They do not discuss at all differences in the education recieved by the two groups as having an effect on this. They do not discuss the difference in opportunity possessed by the two groups. Their assertion reads like this- poor people and minorities are not as smart as the majority and rich people. Both groups had the opportunity to go to a free public school. Both groups do not perform the same at the schools, therefore one group must be genetically better than the other. It is a very juvenile train of logic. Are Quakers genetically inferior because they can not operate a microwave? Is it logical to blame the abused for the abuse? The Bell Curve gives these questions a resounding “YES!” So this book is one of the very few books to come out in the late 20th century that the usual suspects can appeal to and cite when making racial arguements vs the huge amount of literature one may point to when backing the idea that race has no statistical value in determining one’s cognative ability, Jonathan Kozol comes to mind.


Striking Similarities

17 05 2008

  It struck me on Monday as I was driving to work hearing yet another report on Myanmar (Burma) and the horrible cyclone that struck the country, yet another striking blow to the arguement that America is not the best country in the world.  Look at the example below. 

  Myanmar, due to a devastating cyclone hitting the country, many are left without homes, power, food, clean water, etc.  Tthe death toll could top 100,000, the injured count could reach 2 million.  The natural disaster is being turned into a man made catasrophe due to the Government of Myanmar not letting in foreign aid.  The government has repeatedly denied entrance to the county by foreign aid workers.  Myanmar’s ability to respond to such a large scale disaster has been pointed out as insufficent in many articles.  So why will they not let in foreign aid workers?  Is it pride, fear or something else?  Surely in America, in our republic, the democratically elected officials wouldn’t allow something so horrid to occur.

  America, flashback to 29 August 2005.  To paraphrase Sophia Petrillo, picture it, New Orleans 2005, hurricane Katrina hits the city.  For whatever reasons the government, the US government, said it was ‘unable’ to reach to devastated areas.  It insisted on this for several days.  Foreign aid workers were turned away from ports around New Orleans by the US armed forces.  This first occured on 30 August 2005, the day after the hurricane hit the city, several days before American aid reached anyone in the city.  G-Dub stated that America did not need any assistance from foreign aid workers and further that America would not accept assistance from foreign aid workers. Yet, no aid was reaching the people of New Orleans. So why would G-Dub not let in foreign aid workers? Was it pride, fear or something else?

  It strikes me as odd that Myanmar, who’s armed forces are much smaller than that of the US, will not let in foreign aid workers to assist its citizens. 

  It strikes me as odd that the US, who’s relief forces were ‘unable’ to reach the citizens of New Orleans, would not let in foreign aid workers that were able to. 

  Truely this shows the difference in governance between a military junta style dictatorship and that of a republic.


teh best brakeup ltr evr

7 05 2008

You Make Me Touch Your hands For Stupid Reasons is an awesome, almost LolCatz Speak, breakup letter. Teh internets giveth again. Make sure to have your volume up so you can hear the dramatic reading of this letter. The word construct, “you make me touch your hands for stupid reasons,” would seem sort of bittersweet in an emo song or you know, better context. But schadenfreude does not even begin to explain the massive amount of humour I found in this. Please, click and enjoy.

I’ve been waiting 13 years for My Bloody Valentine.

7 05 2008

  My Bloody Valentine is to play a small set of US dates.  I have already requested time off to go see them in Chicago.

  My Bloody Valentine is probably best known today for Kevin Shields’s work on the Lost In Translation soundtrack.  But, for me, MBV’s 1991 album, Loveless, is it.  It is my favourite album of all time.  MBV is my favourite band ever.  It is my opinion that without MBV, we would have no Sonic Youth, no Pavement, no Radiohead, etc., etc.  I put MBV as the second most important/influential band in Rock & Roll history, right behind Chuck Berry (without whom we wouldn’t have had the Beatles…).  This is like my birthday, christmas, chanukah and new year’s all rolled into one.  

  Not only are MBV touring for the first time since 1991, they are slated to release two albums.  One is to consist of unreleased material from the 1991 sessions that were to have made the follow up album to Loveless (then MBV broke up), the other is to be of new material. 

  On another note, Tom Waits is set to play the Brady June 25th.  I’m not such a big fan of his but apparently a lot of people are.  The cheap tix are $400.

Update on Oklahoma’s *latest* Xenophobic (read racist) Push.

5 05 2008

  Oh dear internets, my embarrassment grows. This article informed me that the English only bill has passed the OK House. It is now going to the OK Senate. In this new draft, the bill’s authors added exemptions for Oklahoma’s American Indian languages, Brail and sign language.  I guess the hypocracy of disallowing Native American languages was to much even for them.  But this only serves to further expose the racist anti-hispanic/latino sentiments behind the bill. 

  America is one of a very few (the only as far as I know) developed countries who’s citizens do not have to interact with people who speak other languages regularly.  Even so, putting other languages on signage, what is so horrible about that?  Shouldn’t the government want people to read what it feels is important enough to say?  What, dear internets, besides a (scary) Nationalism could be the motivating factor behind this bill? 

    What I find humourous is this, think of the idea of ‘the ugly American’ and of American tourists in general.  When these people go oversees they benefit from English being on signage throughout.  Statistics have shown, for many decades, that Americans speak only one language.  Most other developed countries have citizens that speak two languages as a matter of course and three and up on the average.  English is on street signs, retail signage, mass transit systems, etc.  Now, I know that Enland is our favourite colony, but it isn’t even continental.  Why then should English be written on signage of countries that do not speak English?  What have they learned that Oklahoman’s do not know?  Could it be a ‘build it and they will come’ thing?  Like, if we make it easy to be a tourist here, maybe they’ll come.  Shouldn’t Oklahoma be interested in this as well?  It certainly stands a better chance of bringing in tourist dollars than a new convention center.  That convention center idea was old when I studied urban decay and revitalization in the late 90s.  Since nearly every metropolitan city in America had that idea 18 or so years ago, is Tulsa really going to pull in the tourist bucks?  Seems HIGHLY unlikely.  Will Oklahoma bring in tourist bucks if our signage is in their language?  Probably not, but it is far less expensive than a convention center or those dumb promotional commercials the state makes to show in other states. 

  I guess what I am left with is that there seem to be no reasons to pass an English only law in Oklahoma except for the racist anti-hispanic/latino ones.  But, if we are going to do the English only thing, shouldn’t get more specific?  Like, the Queen’s English only, or proper English only?  Shouldn’t we punish abusers of the language?  I mean, isn’t txt msg technically English?